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  1. #1
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    Is cycling a real possibility for me?

    I want to start riding a bike, but I'm not sure it is a good option for me. I have been looking at entry level bikes--the Giant Suede and the Sun Ruskin. I am a 56 year old woman, 5'11" and 300 pounds. The real issue is that I had my left hip replaced two years ago and my right knee replaced six months ago. I also have degenerative disk disease in L1 through S1.

    I want to get healthy and fit, but will bike riding exacerbate my back problems? Am I looking at the wrong types of bikes for a person with my history? Are there any problems to be expected when cycling after hip and knee replacement?

    I really want to ride, and my test ride on the Suede gave me such a feeling of freedom and joy. Any advice for me?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone can tell you if it will make your back problems worse......or better. Only by doing it will you tell. I'd bet at first it will make the pain worse, followed by a gradual improvement as your back and abdominal muscles become stronger.

    I'd try out a few bikes at a local bike shop(LBS) and see which one feels best to you.

    Get the bike and stick with it. You might try out the Clyde forum here also. Lots of support in there.

    Good luck and welcome!
    Last edited by bigbadwullf; 05-17-11 at 07:09 AM.

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  3. #3
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    The Giant Suede seems like it would be a good bike to start with.
    You can also ask in the Clydesdale/Athena forum. They have many of the same concerns as you.
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    Thank you for responding

    I will try out the Clyde forum as suggested.

  5. #5
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    If you have access to a fitness club of some sort you might be able to answer your questions by riding their spinning bikes, without buying a bike and then finding out it is not for you.
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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I think RonH's advice is good. I was also say, start out slowly and do what you can do, but by all means start. There are numerous success stories to be found on many of the forums here. You might end up being one, but you have to get started. Good luck!
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    I personally know several people in your general category. Those who have been successful in improving their fitness and health have commited to a complete life style change that included food, weight bearing exercise like lifting weights and cardio which included spin bikes and outdoors bikes. All, have wsorked to their maximum intensity. None have settled for the minimal thing like walking a few minutes each day. So, Yes, you can do it. It will be painful and you will sweat and you will find a lot of people trying to dissuade you. But, if you persist you will find the adaptations you need and will succeed.

    My recommendation is to find a gym or such that has a well educated physcal fitness trainer who does not believe in fad diets and you really get along with. Maybe someone who is a competitive body builder or power lifter, or cyclist. These people seem to have the education and experience to really give good advvice. But, in the end, how well you do and what you do is up to you. No one will know your body better than you.

    You may end up not being able to cycle. No one knows until you try. But, if you can't you will find something else that is just as good. But, the odds are you can ride.

    Good luck, you Can Do it. I see my gym mates do it all the time. It will take a couple years. But you can do it.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  8. #8
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    Welcome and congrats on taking the 1st step. Desire is key to getting in shape. Riding certainly can help. If you felt comfortable on the Suede, try it again and see how it feels the second time. If you decide to buy, make sure a reputable local bike shop fits you properly. As the pounds begin to melt off, you'll want to be refit and continue as time goes on. Agree on the gym and spinning classes. Anything you do will only contribute to your health. You can do it!

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    Without pretending to give you medical advice, I would say that biking could be gentler on your body than walking. I find that with a bad hip and back I'm able to bike quite a bit, whereas my walking distance is too short to be of much benefit.

    I don't recommend a spinning bike at the gym at all. You won't be able to adjust it to be comfortable given your weight. The seat will be murder. I think it would only discourage you and make you give up the idea of biking. And the other bikes at the gym don't have much in common with real biking. Riding a real bike outdoors in a beautiful place is about 1000 times more fun than riding a gym bike.

    You've got to have SOME form of exercise, and I would say that biking is a good choice because the bike will carry your weight and significantly reduce joint stress, compared to full-weight-bearing exercises like running or walking. But with your knees be careful on the hills.

    Your choice of bike will depend in part on the terrain you will be riding in---flat or hilly? If you're riding in hills make sure you get a bike with the lowest possible gears. Choose a rim with 36 spokes.

    If you can combine biking with diet and lose 50 lbs, I think by the time you get down to 250 lbs you will feel significantly different and biking will be much more comfortable for you. At that point you will be able to increase your mileage and accelerate your weight loss. From 250 down to 200 lbs will feel very rewarding as you become lighter and fitter.

    The feeling of freedom you describe is exactly what biking is about, and what health is about. Focus on that feeling and develop a very strong desire for freedom. That one feeling could be the key to your weight loss, health, fitness, and future happiness. Many people have been completely transformed by biking, starting from a rather low level and building up to levels of achievement they never dreamed could be possible. I see no reason why a bike couldn't be your personal ticket to health and personal transformation.

  10. #10
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Providing you take it easy to begin with--The knee and hip problem will be assisted by Cycling. I do have two concerns and one is that fact that cycling may not be suitable for you and you may not stay. A problem with a lot of newcomers but as you have shown your intent by posting here--Don't think that is a problem.

    The other is your weight. A Giant Suede will take your weight and the 300 will soon be going down. The problem will be the wheels. Getupngo has mentioned the wheels aswell and you will need a stronger wheel than most of us here. Talk to the shop selling the bike and see if you can either upgrade the wheels before you buy the bike--Making an allowance on the standard wheels of course. OR get them to recommend a wheel builder who will be able to detension and retrue the wheels from new and them maintain them for you. They may happen to have a wheelbuilder inhouse so that would not be a problem.

    Sorry to go on about the wheels- but it is a problem that many of us do experience and we are lighter than you--And if you start cycling- by the end of the summer- you will be too.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwglass View Post
    I want to start riding a bike, but I'm not sure it is a good option for me. I have been looking at entry level bikes--the Giant Suede and the Sun Ruskin. I am a 56 year old woman, 5'11" and 300 pounds. The real issue is that I had my left hip replaced two years ago and my right knee replaced six months ago. I also have degenerative disk disease in L1 through S1.

    I want to get healthy and fit, but will bike riding exacerbate my back problems? Am I looking at the wrong types of bikes for a person with my history? Are there any problems to be expected when cycling after hip and knee replacement?

    I really want to ride, and my test ride on the Suede gave me such a feeling of freedom and joy. Any advice for me?

    Thanks.
    I think it is fantastic that you are interested in trying. The human body is an amazing thing especially when it gets stronger. Good Luck. Have fun bike shoping!!!

  12. #12
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    Being fit is the most important thing you can do for health. The studies show conclusively that fit over-weight folks can have less risk of death from all causes than sedentary thin ones.

    You'll never know what you can do until you try. I've been there --- sort of. I had a massive stroke when the inner layer of my carotid artery shredded. I had a 20% chance of survival, then I was to live with a permanently blocked carotid. I worked out to the limit and my blood chemistry dissolved the blockage which they said was impossible for a person in his mid 50's. That was some 17 years ago and today I'm fine.

    When they told me I had to be on a blood thinner indefinitely, I told them I was doing it for three months (so I could get back to strength training) unless they knew it would kill me or cause serious harm. They didn't. I discussed the risks several times with each of three neurologist over a week period in the IU. I had wrung the risks out thoroughly.

    Get a bike that you can tolerate and feel reasonably comfortable. Make it cheap and then see what you can do. Start slowly like a mile. Then build up very slowly. If you have been sedentary, you are at risk of a heart issue (exercise thickens the blood some) if you over-do until you get in better condition. After that, little risk.

    If it works out, get a better and more fun bike.

    I had a friend who was told to bike after a hip replacement which he did. That worked out fine.

    Of course you need to discuss with your doctor. For me, a negative from the doctor would not keep me from trying it unless he had proof of some big adverse consequence.

    Al
    Last edited by alcanoe; 05-17-11 at 05:46 PM.

  13. #13
    Psycholist radshark's Avatar
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    You never know until you try. And the risk of not trying is greater then trying.

    I was told about 15 years ago after a disc injury that I would not be running. I've completed several half marathons and century rides since then pain-free.

    What is more important is what you think.

    Welcome and good luck,
    -R.

  14. #14
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    You should be able to find a bike that will work for you, there are many styles include recumbents and trikes. One thing you can be assured of, if you don't get yourself in better shape your quality of life will suffer. Life is hard work and growing old is not for the weak, keep at it and you will enjoy the rewards.
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  15. #15
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwglass View Post
    I want to start riding a bike, but I'm not sure it is a good option for me. I have been looking at entry level bikes--the Giant Suede and the Sun Ruskin. I am a 56 year old woman, 5'11" and 300 pounds. The real issue is that I had my left hip replaced two years ago and my right knee replaced six months ago. I also have degenerative disk disease in L1 through S1.

    I want to get healthy and fit, but will bike riding exacerbate my back problems? Am I looking at the wrong types of bikes for a person with my history? Are there any problems to be expected when cycling after hip and knee replacement?

    I really want to ride, and my test ride on the Suede gave me such a feeling of freedom and joy. Any advice for me?

    Thanks.
    I have nothing to add to what others before me have said, except to extend a welcome. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you like when you are chosing a bike, and please keep us posted.
    You will get lots of encouragement here.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    I suggest you try a 3-wheel recumbent such as a Catrike. It will be much easier on your knees and can easily accommodate your weight. Also, sitting in the "cradle" of the Catrike will be much easier on you than a DF (diamond frame) bicycle with its relatively narrow seat. As well, the sitting position in a Catrike is better for your back.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadillac View Post
    I suggest you try a 3-wheel recumbent such as a Catrike. It will be much easier on your knees and can easily accommodate your weight. Also, sitting in the "cradle" of the Catrike will be much easier on you than a DF (diamond frame) bicycle with its relatively narrow seat. As well, the sitting position in a Catrike is better for your back.
    I think this is sound advice. I have a neighbor who's back is one large fusion. Four years ago he gave up his "bike" for a recumbent trike. He now rides 15,000 miles per year, singing all the way. Another friend bought a custom trike from a local manufacturer three years ago and is now in the best shape of his life. He's 58 and hadn't exercised since high school.

    Good luck. There are lots of good times waiting for you on whatever bike you ride.

  18. #18
    Lance Legweak HIPCHIP's Avatar
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    I have a really bad back and I ended up riding a recumbent trike for years and that worked well for me for years. After I lost my weight I ended up getting into a really nice road bike, and bending over forward actually helped to open up my back and stretch it out, so riding a bike helps me a bunch. I can't ride a mountain bike as sitting straight up hurts my back, so between bending forward on a road bike, or backwards on a recumbent may work for you. A nice steel recumbent trike is a great way to start and should be able to support your weight with no problem, plus you don't have to worry about falling over, which can be a problem when you carry a lot of weight up high as you would on a two wheeler.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HIPCHIP View Post
    I I can't ride a mountain bike as sitting straight up hurts my back, so between bending forward on a road bike, or backwards on a recumbent may work for you. A nice steel recumbent trike is a great way to start and should be able to support your weight with no problem, plus you don't have to worry about falling over, which can be a problem when you carry a lot of weight up high as you would on a two wheeler.
    A very minor point, but mountain bikes should not be ridden sitting straight up. I'm at about 45-50 degrees and significantly lower on rough trails and climbs. I'm at 45 on my road bike as well.

    Al

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    pwglass, I do hope that you will be able to find a bicycle that you can ride and enjoy. None of us can know exactly what is going to work for you, but we know that many people with many different kinds of physical conditions and limitations have found ways to become avid and accomplished cyclists. You never know what you can do until you try. Good luck.
    Last edited by BluesDawg; 05-18-11 at 01:43 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Goof point!

    Quote Originally Posted by HIPCHIP View Post
    I have a really bad back and I ended up riding a recumbent trike for years and that worked well for me for years. After I lost my weight I ended up getting into a really nice road bike, and bending over forward actually helped to open up my back and stretch it out, so riding a bike helps me a bunch. I can't ride a mountain bike as sitting straight up hurts my back, so between bending forward on a road bike, or backwards on a recumbent may work for you. A nice steel recumbent trike is a great way to start and should be able to support your weight with no problem, plus you don't have to worry about falling over, which can be a problem when you carry a lot of weight up high as you would on a two wheeler.
    I want to thank everyone for the encouragement! I'm not sure whether I will go with a recumbent or trike (although one of my sons is worried that I might fall), but the point about stretching the back is a good one. My doctor tells me I should unload my back by walking around every hour or so (I sit at a computer all day), so perhaps a road bike would be a good idea. I had thought about handlebars that allow a more upright position, but I may rethink that. I do know that as I put my leg over the bicycle when getting on, I got twinges in my lower back. That could just be recent inflammation that has not totally resolved.

    Have any of you seen Sun's Streamway bikes? They have a really low entry, which would be great, but they just look so darned odd! Would that type of frame be good for general riding? I love in an urban area, in a historic district, so there aren't too many hills where I plan to do the majority of my riding--at least, until I am more comfortable on a bike and in better shape. There are, however, broken sidewalks...

    Thanks again for all the encouragement. I'll report back on what I go with, because I am going to ride!

  22. #22
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    On the bike- it is up to you as to what type but one thing I will suggest is that you find the "LBS"- Local bike shop- that you like and appears to like you. There are many shops out there that will just sell you a bike. The "Good" LBS will listen to you- suggest things to help you- offer you test rides to see if you can get on with the bike- make certain you get the right type of bike and the size and always be there if you have a problem. That LBS can take some finding but it will be somewhere.

    And the comment about Upright riding position. Some of us do need that "Upright" riding position as we can't get on with riding with our head between our knees. BUT how upright? My MTB is a bit more upright than I really want but that is down to chest surgery 10 years ago. But the road bikes are longer in the ride position- have the bars pretty low and are comfortable. The longer lower stretched out position on my road bikes is comfortable----But so is the ride position on the MTB. I just would not like to do long distances on the MTB.
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  23. #23
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwglass View Post
    I want to thank everyone for the encouragement! I'm not sure whether I will go with a recumbent or trike (although one of my sons is worried that I might fall), but the point about stretching the back is a good one. My doctor tells me I should unload my back by walking around every hour or so (I sit at a computer all day), so perhaps a road bike would be a good idea. I had thought about handlebars that allow a more upright position, but I may rethink that. I do know that as I put my leg over the bicycle when getting on, I got twinges in my lower back. That could just be recent inflammation that has not totally resolved.

    Have any of you seen Sun's Streamway bikes? They have a really low entry, which would be great, but they just look so darned odd! Would that type of frame be good for general riding? I love in an urban area, in a historic district, so there aren't too many hills where I plan to do the majority of my riding--at least, until I am more comfortable on a bike and in better shape. There are, however, broken sidewalks...

    Thanks again for all the encouragement. I'll report back on what I go with, because I am going to ride!
    The Sun Streamway bears an uncanny resemblance to the Biria EZ Boarding bike.



    I used to sell these when I owned a bike shop, and they were very popular.
    If by general riding, you mean nothing too far or too fast, yeah they're great. I wouldn't want to do a multi day road tour on a bike like that though.
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  24. #24
    Crispy Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwglass View Post
    I really want to ride, and my test ride on the Suede gave me such a feeling of freedom and joy. Any advice for me?
    Follow your bliss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pwglass View Post
    I want to thank everyone for the encouragement! I'm not sure whether I will go with a recumbent or trike (although one of my sons is worried that I might fall), but the point about stretching the back is a good one. My doctor tells me I should unload my back by walking around every hour or so (I sit at a computer all day), so perhaps a road bike would be a good idea. I had thought about handlebars that allow a more upright position, but I may rethink that. I do know that as I put my leg over the bicycle when getting on, I got twinges in my lower back. That could just be recent inflammation that has not totally resolved.

    Have any of you seen Sun's Streamway bikes? They have a really low entry, which would be great, but they just look so darned odd! Would that type of frame be good for general riding? I love in an urban area, in a historic district, so there aren't too many hills where I plan to do the majority of my riding--at least, until I am more comfortable on a bike and in better shape. There are, however, broken sidewalks...

    Thanks again for all the encouragement. I'll report back on what I go with, because I am going to ride!
    Good for you!

    I really encourage you to go the spin bike route to start with IF you can find a real sized instructor (not one of those pee wee sparkplugs) who is properly trained. My first two were full size people who understood the pain and difficulty I was having and were able to give me tips to minimize pain and maximize results. You Will Hurt. The task becomes how to recognize hurt for growth and hurt that is damaging you. Once I got to a certain level of fitness I could then move outdoors on a real bike and start cranking out the miles. You will find that fitness grows by steps. A year from now you won't recognize yourself. Warning: Be patient. Use diet, Rest, and exercise wisely. All are equally important. You didn't get where you are in a month or even a year. Getting to a For The Rest Of Your Life Fitness will take some time.

    Frankly, in this regard although I highly value the people at my LBS they haven't much more than a clue on my needs. People who are way outside the age, weight, size limits, etc. of "normal" pretty much have to figure things out for themselves. They can get information from the trainer, from the LBS, from boards like this, etc. But, in the end each of us has our own particular body and our own demons and must figure it out on our own.

    Best to you
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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